First Look: Texas

Longhorns' defense will be an issue, offense is a problem

Everywhere first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong has gone, the offense has trailed behind the defense.

He’s a defense-first coach with a hard-nosed reputation, one that leans toward the defensive side of the football.

Texas, which has seen its fair share of roster dismissals, might be a disaster on offense, but the Longhorns can still play defense.

“Everywhere I've ever been, the defense has always outperformed the offense,” Strong said. “It's not many places I haven't been where the defense wasn't better than the offense.”

Even as Texas stumbles dangerously close to its worst season in almost 20 years, the Longhorns can still shut people down.

Texas (2-3, 1-1 Big 12) held Baylor to less than half of its average from a season ago. The Longhorns shut out Kansas and held UCLA, which lost its first game Saturday, to just 20 points.

“They understand that defense is how we are going to win and the plan to win is go play great defense,” Strong said. “. . . They know we have to play. We have to play lights out to win.”

There is just such a stark contrast in the Longhorns.

They are holding teams to less than 20 points per game – 21st in the country – but scoring less than 19, which is good enough for 116th. That’s 116 out of 128. They’re averaging less than two touchdowns with sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes under center.

Texas had at least eight victories in all but one season under Mack Brown and is currently on pace to tie the worst season since 1997.

“You've just got to continue to play and win games,” Strong said after his team’s loss to Baylor. “When you win a big game that you don't suppose to win, then it all comes together for you.” This Saturday will be that big game.

With the script on how to beat rival Oklahoma put in front of them by TCU, all Texas must do is replicate it. On defense, that shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s the offense that will lag behind. With Swoopes, the Longhorns have a near physical replica to TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, who dissected the Sooners’ defense with his legs.

Almost a replica, because Swoopes is a little bigger but also much less experienced.

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